I am lucky enough to have in my personal library a book entitled ‘The Mourner’s Friend or Sighs of Sympathy For Those Who Sorrow’. It is a collection of prose and verse compiled to give comfort to the grieving. Edited by J.B. Syme, published in 1852 by S.A. Howland in Worcester, Mass, USA; its contents are by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. My copy of the book has some water damage, ageing paper, and precarious binding, so before it deteriorates my project to preserve the words of the authors will find its way here on the MOLAM blog.
William Bingham Tappan was born in Beverly, Massachusetts 1794. He published a number of volumes of poetry in the first half of the 19th Century. In one of the brief biographies online it is noted Tappan was a “resolute advocate of total abstinence, and opponent of slavery”. He died in West Needham in 1849.
The introductory quote is taken from The Pilgrim’s Progress, written by John Bunyan and first published in 1678. According to the biography link in the previous paragraph, this famous Christian allegory was one of the few books Tappan had access to as an eager young reader.
Entering In At The Celestial Gate. by W. B. Tappan.
“Now just as the gates were opened to let in the men, I look in after them, and behold the city shone like the sun ; the streets also were paved with gold ; and in them walked many men with crowns upon their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps to sing praises withal. – There were also of them that had wings ; and they answered one another without intermission, saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.’ And after that, they shut up the gates ; which, when I had seen, I wished myself among them.” – Pilgrim’s Progress.”
WOULD I were with them ! They are free
From all the cares they knew below,
And strangers to the strife that we
Encounter in this vale of woe.
From storms of sorrow and of pain
Forever are they garnered in ;
Secure from sad defilement’s stain,
The mildew and the blight of sin.
Would I were with them ! They embrace
The loved ones, lost, long years before ;
What joy to gaze upon the face
That never shall be absent more !
There friends unite, who parted here
At Death’s cold river, O how sadly !
Forgotten are the sigh and tear,
Their hearts are leaping, O how gladly !
Would I were with them ! They behold
Their Saviour, glorious and divine ;
They touch the cups of shining gold,
An d in his kingdom drink new wine.
How flash, like gems, their brilliant lyres
Along the sparkling walls of heaven,
When from the radiance-catching fires,
The song of songs to Christ is given !
Would I were with them ! While without
Are sighs and weeping, they, within,
For every joy and gladness shout
And well they may, who’re free from sin !
O this, indeed, is heaven above ;
This fills the bliss of every soul, –
To grow in holiness and love,
As age on age shall ceaseless roll.